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Cougar: Ghost of the Rockies / The Hidden World of Africa Review by Heather Jackowitz

(from the Explore the Wildlife Kingdom series)

Our family loves animals, so we often borrow animal videos from the library. However, more often than not, these videos present evolution as fact, and we must frequently pause to evaluate the information we are being fed. Therefore, I was incredibly excited to discover the Explore the Wildlife Kingdom videos, which rival the quality of any National Geographic video I have ever rented-without the evolutionary theory!

While I did not hear one mention of evolution in either of the two DVDs I reviewed, neither did I hear any explicit mention of God or the Bible. Phrases such as "kingdom of Creation" and "nature's wise design" will likely appeal to a broader audience than Christians only.

Cougar: Ghost of the Rockies provides a fascinating look at how two men, one a mountain lion expert and the other a wildlife photographer, studied and filmed a five-year-old cougar and her three kittens over a period of two years. The cougar is a beautiful creature, and our family enjoyed seeing similarities between the cougar and our pet cat. Some of the film footage is incredibly intimate, and you will marvel at the cinematography. A segment on the history of mountain lion hunting as sport was disturbing to my family, so be prepared if you have sensitive children.

The Hidden World of Africa offers an intriguing look at the insects of Africa. The filmmakers wisely chose to alternate footage between large African animals and these smaller ones, which provides the African context as well as a nice contrast. WARNING: This video is not for the squeamish, as it has some graphic footage of what some might find disgusting. For example, one segment on giraffes shows a young, sick giraffe dying from blood loss due to excessive tick infestation. Following the giraffe's death, we see flies laying their eggs in its flesh and then maggots completely devouring the carcass. The narrator acknowledges the difficulty in watching such a scene, but he reminds viewers of the efficiency of this relationship. However, not all the footage is unpleasant to watch; one hilarious segment that had our whole family in stitches shows dung beetles doing their acrobatics. Did you know that without those beetles, the buffalo dung would completely smother and destroy the African grasslands? Amazing! You certainly will come away with an appreciation for the incredible microscopic world of Africa, and you will probably look more closely at those incredible little creatures around your own home as well.

The Explore the Wildlife Kingdom video series is one of my favorite finds of the year. Highly recommended!

Product review by Heather Jackowitz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2007